A ‘Dogma’-tic approach to dressing your pets
How to safely celebrate National Dress Up Your Pets Day and beyond
January 14 is National Dress Up Your Pets Day, and while it can seem like yet another silly “holiday,” Dogma Training & Pet Services founder Meagan Stanley says dressing up your pets can help prepare them “for the real world.”
“Much like you would with babies and toddlers, getting your pets used to the sensation of wearing something even in a playful context can have a major impact on desensitizing them to more important things like bandages, harnesses, coats and booties,” Megan explains, which is especially useful during the current cold snap Calgary is facing.
Megan is quick to dispel the idea that any sort of dress-up for pets is inherently wrong. “That line of thinking is not practical for dogs living in the human context,” she says. Dogma Training & Pet Services specializes in fearful dogs and using real-world concepts and environments for training. Dogma also hosts annual costume parties with its dogs for Halloween, and she and her dogs pose for Christmas cards every year.
As with any pet training, Megan emphasizes the importance of trust. Pets will likely pick up on your frustration and become reactive, so it is best to be calm and introduce them to the concept of dress-up slowly. “You don’t want them to start associating the outfit with fear and negativity,” she explains. Begin by laying out the outfit and move at your pet’s pace, rewarding any level of investigation with treats and praise before moving onto the wearing stage, and take it off when it’s no longer necessary. Megan has often lured her own dogs’ heads through neck holes using their favourite treats.
“My pitbull, Duke, will wear just about anything,” she says. “Sunglasses, feather boas, Santa hats. I think it makes him appear softer and more approachable for people. He’s a goofy boy.”